Epic Games is expanding. The Unreal Engine studio behind Bulletstorm, Gears of War, and the upcoming Fortnite is, for the first time, seeking outside investment from companies like Tencent as it builds its video game making business into a survivor. It opened yet another branch studio this week. On its homepage, Epic announced the opening of Impossible Games. The Maryland-based studio will be working on Epic’s mobile projects, including Infinity Blade: Dungeons.
Impossible Studios is a new territory in the Epic empire, but the truth it it’s a lifeboat. The studio was first opened at the beginning of June after Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning creator 38 Studios laid off all staff, including the Baltimore-based Big Huge Games. A number of employees at Big Huge were snatched up by Epic and put up in a development house that was dubbed Epic Baltimore by fans on the Internet. Impossible Games is the official name for the studio rising from Big Huge’s ashes.
“We were so glad we could help keep this great team together, and we’re lucky to have them,” said Epic President Mike Capps in the announcement, “At the time, I said that finding a full team of superstars was ‘impossible’ and apparently the name stuck! Pairing the imagination and experience of Impossible with Epic’s technology, IP and resources makes for a business greater than the sum of its parts.”
Former Big Huge general manager Sean Dunn, whose credits include bonafide classics like Company of Heroes as well as Amalur, has been named studio director at Impossible. Its first project, Infinity Blade: Dungeons, is actually a collaboration between Shadow Complex studio ChAIR and Epic Cary, with the bulk of work happening at Impossible’s home base.
Infinity Blade: Dungeons will no doubt benefit from Impossible’s expertise in action RPGs. Early demos of the iPad game have been found wanting by the press. The look of the Diablo-style dungeon crawler has been praised but the touch-only interface has been finicky, lacking the simple precision of the Infinity Blade one-on-one fighters released to date. Since most of the game is already finished, it sounds as Impossible will simply be polishing the game’s quality.
Which begs the question: What will Impossible Games’ first project be? Capps’ comments indicate that Impossible will work with established Epic intellectual properties to start with which is understandable. Epic is likely still gun-shy about letting its satellite studios develop new IP after the disappointing 2011 performance of People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm. Maybe a Gears of War RPG? A new Infinity Blade for PCs and consoles? Nothing’s impossible!
And here I thought I could get through this without a single pun.